Wednesday 28 March 2007 

Hogg And McGrath Bowl Australia To Victory In Antigua

Australia have sealed a comprehensive 103 run win over the West Indies to get their Super Eight campaign off to the best possible start in Antigua.

Once Brian Lara, who made an impressive 77, was dismissed leg before by Brad Hogg, the game was up, although Denesh Ramdin made a quickfire fifty, off of 41 balls as West Indies limped to 219 all out in 45.3 overs.

Brad Hogg and Glenn McGrath took 3 wickets each as the West Indian pursuit of 323 never got going. Hogg, who finished with 3-56, took the key wickets of Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan when both were well set and looking to rebuild the West Indian innings.

Lara hit a wonderful half-century and was the only West Indian batsmen who looked at ease against a well disciplined and efficient Australian bowling attack.

He and Ramnaresh Sarwan went some way towards building a platform, after coming in with the score on 20 for 3. Neither player could get going early on but time at the crease benefitted them both as boundaries and fine shots began to flow from both men's bats.

Their partnership put on 71 before Sarwan drilled a Brad Hogg full toss straight into the hands of Ricky Ponting for 29, as West Indies slumped to 91 for 4 off of 25.1 overs.

Resuming after rain ended yesterday's play before they could start their response, the West Indians found themselves under early pressure from opening bowlers Shaun Tait and Nathan Bracken. Unable to get quick runs, Shivnarine Chanderpaul (5) was adjudged leg before to Tait and Chris Gayle (2) lofted a catch to Shane Watson off of Glenn McGrath to leave West Indies in big trouble.

As if sensing an opportunity when McGrath was introduced into the attack, Marlon Samuels could only find the safe hands of Andrew Symonds as he attempted a big shot, and with that West Indies were in the desperate position of 20 for 3.

Yesterday, a brutal innings of 158 from Matthew Hayden which was the highlight of Australia's total of 322-6.

No other batsmen passed fifty, although there were useful contributions from Michael Clarke (41), Ricky Ponting (35) and some late hitting from Shane Watson (33 not out.)

Hayden, who hit a 66 ball century in the final group game against South Africa, took 18 balls to get off the mark here, but he and Ponting then accelerated after the early loss of Adam Gilchrist for 7.

Boundaries came all round the ground with no bowler spared serious punishment, including Jerome Taylor, who was hit for two huge sixes and a four in three balls.

Hayden and Ponting put together a fifty partnership after West Indies captain Brian Lara won the toss in Antigua and saw his decision rewarded with the wicket of Gilchrist, caught by wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin off of a fine delivery from Daren Powell for 7.

Ponting's innings was ended by a fine piece of fielding by Ramnaresh Sarwan when he was after a quick single.

Hayden also shared a fifty partnership with Michael Clarke who hit a workmanlike 41 before succumbing lbw to Dwayne Bravo, who Lara turned to in search of just such a breakthrough.

Andrew Symonds briefly threatened before Bravo removed him, well caught by Ramdin for 13.

Powell, who bowled impressively to begin with and finished with figures 2-53, returned to remove the out of form Mike Hussey, bowled via an inside edge for 9.

John Pennington
© Cricket World 2007